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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 8

'Idol' producer Ken Warwick responds to Paula Abdul allegations

By Christopher Rocchio, 12/16/2008 

American Idol executive producer Ken Warwick has denied Paula Abdul's allegation that producers allowed Paula Goodspeed to audition on the show's fifth season despite Abdul's warnings that Goodspeed was more than just a fan.

"I was in the room... and I can absolutely put my hand on my heart and say I didn't know.  And that's the truth.  I didn't.  If I thought anyone was dangerous, for any reason, I would not let them in," Warwick told reporters during a Monday conference call.

While Warwick claims he was never aware of Abdul's feelings about Goodspeed -- who had been sending Abdul disturbing letters for nearly two decades before she was found dead near the Idol judge's home last month -- he conceded that Abdul might have alerted another member of Idol's production staff.

"She may have mentioned it to another junior producer, I'm not sure - really I'm not sure... I can't honestly remember the situation," said Warwick, who added Idol auditions have "pretty heavy security."

"So the fact is, [Abdul] may have mentioned it to somebody.  She certainly didn't mention it to me.  She certainly didn't mention it to someone who had the clout to say, OK, we don't let that person in."

Abdul had told Barbara Walters during an interview last week on her Here's Barbara! Sirius Satellite Radio program that, despite her warnings, Idol producers ultimately decided to let Goodspeed audition because the "entertainment value... would make good television."

"If the inference is that I would put someone in there in front of [the judges] because it would be good television, then anyone who knows any of the shows I've made over the last 20 years will know I don't do that.  I just don't," said Warwick.

"Obviously, I'd never contaminate the credibility of the show by deliberately putting somebody on who was dangerous in any way, either to themselves or to anybody else in front of the judges, wouldn't do it.  So, the truth of the matter is, it's a really unfortunate situation, but you know occasionally these things happen."

In addition, Warwick reiterated comments made by former Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe -- who said if producers had known Goodspeed "was in any way, shape or form, a danger to herself or Paula, there is no way we would have allowed" her to audition.

"I didn't even know that this person was a risk or was what was termed as a stalker.  I didn't know," said Warwick.  "I mean I knew she was a fan, I knew she was an ardent fan, but that was the only thing that came in front of me.  So, you know it's just a really and awful unfortunate situation."

Warwick added that there is a "fine line" of when a fan is dangerous or just a fan -- a difference that producers are "aware of."

"There are people that have appeared to us to be quite aggressive in the past that we've never let through to the judges.  If that person, we think, is going to be a problem, then they don't get as far as the judges," he told reporters.

"Very often we will let fans through, because fans give us good TV and you know it winds the other judges up.  Which usually is great... I wasn't even aware that this person was a little more than a fan, and that's the truth.  I didn't know."

Since Goodspeed's apparent suicide occurred after Idol's eighth-season auditions -- which took place over the summer -- Warwick said the audition process for the show has yet to change. 

Still, Warwick said he's unsure how to change the process once the opportunity arises.

"I don't know how -- other than give everybody a psych test before they walk through those doors -- that we can possibly know [if a person is dangerous]," he said.  "All we do is the best we possibly can, we have security there fully, and if that person's behavior has been irrational, then we would make a decision not to put them in front of the judges." 

Warwick also insisted that contrary to the latest round of rumors, Idol's producers aren't considering replacing Abdul.

"There's never been any discussion that we would want to get rid of Paula.  You know, even if there were people in production that didn't like her  -- you know, and Simon's one of them, you know he waffles in and out, he likes her one minute, he loves her the next, he can't stand her the next," Warwick said.

"The truth of the matter is we've never had a discussion of is her job in any jeopardy.  No it's not, it's not in any jeopardy.  America loves Paula.  She's an integral part of this program.  And as far as I'm concerned I hope she's there until the day it comes off the air.  End of story."

However Warwick did hint that either Fox or some of the show's non-production staff may have mentioned such a scenario as part of their contract negotiations with Abdul, who in the last year of her current Idol contract.

"Now, as always with these deals, contracts come up and people renegotiate, and people say -- oh, you know attorneys for networks and things say, 'Oh, well if you don't increase this, then you're not going to be on it' and there's a lot of this goes on," Warwick said.  "But the truth of the matter is, never have I ever been faced with anyone saying to me 'Paula's got to go, Paula's asking for too much money. The negotiations are not going well.  She's got to leave the program.' That has never, ever happened."

"She is one of the foundation blocks of this series, and I certainly wouldn't want to lose her, and I don't honestly think America would want to lose her either.  At least she keeps Simon well in control, but she's you know she’s worth her weight in gold in that area alone."

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